Daniel 7:7
After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it: and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns.
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(7) A fourth beast.—This is so different from the preceding three, and so terrible in appearance, that Daniel can hardly find words to describe it. The distinguishing feature of it is the power which it possesses of breaking and stamping out all that it meets. In this way it corresponds to “iron that breaketh in pieces, and subdueth all things.” (Comp. Daniel 2:40.) The description of the destructive might of this beast is heightened by the mention of “iron teeth” and “brazen claws.” It should be noticed that the horns imply strength, while the ten horns correspond to the ten toes of the image.

The residue—i.e., what it did not destroy with its teeth it trampled upon and annihilated with its feet.

Daniel 7:7. Behold a fourth beast — This fourth kingdom can be no other than the Roman empire, which answers this emphatical description better than any of the former kingdoms. Dreadful, and terrible, and strong exceedingly — And therefore compared to iron, Daniel 2:40. It devoured and brake in pieces — It spread its arms and its terrors to a much greater extent than any of the preceding powers, and entirely subdued all the remains of the former kingdoms, and all the nations that had been subject to them. It reduced Macedon into a Roman province about one hundred and sixty-eight years, the kingdom of Pergamus about one hundred and thirty-three years, Syria about sixty-five years, and Egypt about thirty years, before Christ. And besides the remains of the Macedonian empire, it subdued many other provinces and kingdoms; so that it might, by a very usual figure, be said to devour the whole earth, to tread it down and break it in pieces; and become, in a manner, what the Roman writers delighted to call it, “The empire of the whole world.” The words of Dionysius Halicarnassus are very apposite to this subject. “The city of Rome,” says he, “ruleth over all the earth as far as it is inhabited, and commands all the sea, not only that within the Pillars of Hercules, but also the ocean, as far as it is navigable; having first and alone, of all the celebrated kingdoms, made the east and west the bounds of its empire, and its dominion hath continued longer than that of any other city or kingdom.” And it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it — This is intimated by its having no name, being more cruel and horrid than any sort of beast whatever; and the Roman power was so multiform, that it could not be pointed out by any one species of resemblance. And it was different from all kingdoms in its republican form of government, its greatness, length of duration, and extent of dominion. But its chief distinction consisted in its having ten horns, which we find at Daniel 7:24 are ten kings or kingdoms: see also Revelation 17:12. And these answer to the ten toes of the image, Daniel 2:42. The empire continued in its greatness fill the reign of Theodosius the Great, and soon afterward the partition happened, and the broken form remained, for the ten kingdoms were to be no more united, till the Ancient of days should come.

7:1-8 This vision contains the same prophetic representations with Nebuchadnezzar's dream. The great sea agitated by the winds, represented the earth and the dwellers on it troubled by ambitious princes and conquerors. The four beasts signified the same four empires, as the four parts of Nebuchadnezzar's image. Mighty conquerors are but instruments of God's vengeance on a guilty world. The savage beast represents the hateful features of their characters. But the dominion given to each has a limit; their wrath shall be made to praise the Lord, and the remainder of it he will restrain.After this I saw in the night visions - The other beasts were seen also in a dream Daniel 7:1, and this probably in the same night, though as a subsequent part of the dream, for the whole vision evidently passed before the prophet in a single dream. The succession, or the fact that he saw one after the other, indicates a sucession in the kingdoms. They were not to be at the same time upon the earth, but one was to arise after another in the order here indicated, though they were in some respects to occupy the same territory. The singular character of the beast that now appears; the number of the horns; the springing up of a new horn; the might and terror of the beast, and the long duration of its dominion upon the earth, attracted and fixed the attention of Daniel, led him into a more minute description of the appearance of the animal, and induced him particularly to ask an explanation of the angel of the meaning of this part of the vision, Daniel 7:19.

And, behold, a fourth beast - This beast had peculiar characteristics, all of which were regarded as symbolic, and all of which demand explanation in order that we may have a just view of the nature and design of the symbol.

As in reference to the three former beasts, so also in regard to this, it will be proper to explain first the significance of the different parts of the symbol, and then in the exposition (Daniel 7:19, following) to inquire into the application. The particulars of this symbol are more numerous, more striking, and more important than in either of the previous ones. These particulars are the following Daniel 7:7-11 :

(a) The animal itself Daniel 5:7 : "a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly." The form or nature of the beast is not given as in the preceding cases - the lion, the bear, and the leopard - but it is left for the imagination to fill up. It was a beast more terrific in its appearance than either of the others, and was evidently a monster such as could not be designated by a single name. The terms which are used here in describing the beast - "dreadful, terrible, exceedingly strong," are nearly synonymous, and are heaped together in order to give an impressive view of the terror inspired by the beast. There can be no doubt as to the general meaning of this, for it is explained Daniel 7:23 as denoting a kingdom that "should devour the whole earth, and tread it down, and break it in pieces." As a symbol, it would denote some power much more fearful and much more to be dreaded; having a wider dominion; and more stern, more oppressive in its character, more severe in its exactions, and more entirely destroying the liberty of others; advancing more by power and terror, and less by art and cunning, than either. This characteristic is manifest throughout the symbol.

(b) The teeth Daniel 7:7 : "and it had great iron teeth." Not only teeth or tusks, such as other animals may have, but teeth made of iron. This is characteristic of a monster, and shows that there was to be something very peculiar in the dominion that was here symbolized. The teeth are of use to eat or devour; and the symbol here is that of devouring or rending - as a fierce monster with such teeth might be supposed to rend or devour all that was before it. This, too, would denote a nation exceedingly fierce; a nation of savage ferocity; a nation that would be signally formidable to all others. For illustration, compare Jeremiah 15:12; Micah 4:13. As explained in Daniel 7:23, it is said that the kingdom denoted by this would "devour the whole earth." Teeth - great teeth, are often used as the symbols of cruelty, or of a devouring enemy. Thus in Proverbs 30:14 : "There is a generation whose teeth are as swords, and their jaw teeth are as knives, to devour the poor from off the earth, and the needy from among men." So David uses the word to denote the cruelty of tyrants: Psalm 3:7, "Thou hast broken the teeth of the ungodly;" Psalm 57:4, "whose teeth are spears and arrows;" Psalm 58:6, "break their teeth in their mouth; break out the great teeth of the young lions."

(c) The stamping with the feet Daniel 7:7 : "it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it." That is, like a fierce monster, whatever it could not devour it stamped down and crushed in the earth. This indicates a disposition or purpose to destroy, for the sake of destroying, or where no other purpose could be gained. It denotes rage, wrath, a determination to crush all in its way, to have universal dominion; and would be applicable to a nation that subdued and crushed others for the mere sake of doing it, or because it was unwilling that any other should exist and enjoy liberty - even where itself could not hope for any advantage.

(d) The fact that it was different from all that went before it Daniel 7:7 : "and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it." The prophet does not specify particularly in what respects it was different, for he does not attempt to give its appearance. It was not a lion, a bear, or a leopard, but he does not say precisely what it was. Probably it was such a monster that there were no animals with which it could be compared. He states some circumstances, however, in which it was different - as in regard to the ten horns, the little horn, the iron teeth, etc., but still the imagination is left to fill up the picture in general. The meaning of this must be, that the fourth kingdom, represented by this beast, would be materially different from those which preceded it, and we must look for the fulfillment in some features that would characterize it by which it would be unlike the others. There must be something marked in the difference - something that would be more than the common difference between nations.

(e) The ten horns Daniel 7:7 : "and it had ten horns." That is, the prophet saw on it ten horns as characterizing the beast. The horn is a symbol of power, and is frequently so used as an emblem or symbol in Daniel Dan 7:7-8, Daniel 7:20, Daniel 7:24; Daniel 8:3-9, Daniel 8:20-22 and Revelation Rev 5:6; Revelation 13:1, Revelation 13:11; Revelation 17:3, Revelation 17:12, Revelation 17:16. It is used as a symbol because the great strength of horned animals is found there. Thus in Amos 6:13, it is said:

"Ye that rejoice in a thing of nought,

That say, Have we not taken dominion to ourselves By our own strength?"

(Heb. horns.)

So in Deuteronomy 33:17 :

"His beauty shall be that of a young bull,

And his horns shall be the horns of a rhinoceros:


7. As Daniel lived under the kingdom of the first beast, and therefore needed not to describe it, and as the second and third are described fully in the second part of the book, the chief emphasis falls on the fourth. Also prophecy most dwells on the end, which is the consummation of the preceding series of events. It is in the fourth that the world power manifests fully its God-opposing nature. Whereas the three former kingdoms were designated respectively, as a lion, bear, and leopard, no particular beast is specified as the image of the fourth; for Rome is so terrible as to be not describable by any one, but combines in itself all that we can imagine inexpressibly fierce in all beasts. Hence thrice (Da 7:7, 19, 23) it is repeated, that the fourth was "diverse from all" the others. The formula of introduction, "I saw in the night visions," occurs here, as at Da 7:2, and again at Da 7:13, thus dividing the whole vision into three parts—the first embracing the three kingdoms, the second the fourth and its overthrow, the third Messiah's kingdom. The first three together take up a few centuries; the fourth, thousands of years. The whole lower half of the image in the second chapter is given to it. And whereas the other kingdoms consist of only one material, this consists of two, iron and clay (on which much stress is laid, Da 2:41-43); the "iron teeth" here allude to one material in the fourth kingdom of the image.

ten horns—It is with the crisis, rather than the course, of the fourth kingdom that this seventh chapter is mainly concerned. The ten kings (Da 7:24, the "horns" representing power), that is, kingdoms, into which Rome was divided on its incorporation with the Germanic and Slavonic tribes, and again at the Reformation, are thought by many to be here intended. But the variation of the list of the ten, and their ignoring the eastern half of the empire altogether, and the existence of the Papacy before the breaking up of even the Western empire, instead of being the "little horn" springing up after the other ten, are against this view. The Western Roman empire continued till A.D. 731, and the Eastern, till A.D. 1453. The ten kingdoms, therefore, prefigured by the ten "toes" (Da 2:41; compare Re 13:1; 17:12), are the ten kingdoms into which Rome shall be found finally divided when Antichrist shall appear [Tregelles]. These, probably, are prefigured by the number ten being the prevalent one at the chief turning points of Roman history.

A fourth beast: this was the Roman empire; for that followed the Grecian, and was monstrous as to his rise and progress.

Stamped the residue with the feet of it. As to the variety and cruelty of the government, it made use not only of Italians, but Spaniards, Gauls, Germans, Britons, which made their armies hardy and hard as iron, which broke in pieces the gold, silver, and brass. But it is plain this is the last kingdom of the Four, that was to be destroyed by Christ’s kingdom, and this work was to be doing till the last age, Daniel 7:13.

Ten horns, i.e. kings, Daniel 7:24 Revelation 17:12, called

horns. i.e. of iron, as the teeth were, i.e. cruel and persecuting; as beasts push and gore with their horns.

After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast,.... Not in another night, as Jarchi; but in the same night, and in the same visions of it; only after he had seen the other three successively, then last of all he saw this fourth beast; and more being said of this than of the rest, shows that this was the principal thing in the vision to be observed, as being to endure until, and having a close connection with, the kingdom of the Messiah; which, arising, shall destroy it, and take place of it: this is not the Turkish empire, as Aben Ezra, and others: nor the kingdom of the Seleucidae, as Grotius, and others; to which neither the characters, nor the duration of it, agree; but the Roman empire, which succeeded the Grecian, so Gorionides (g):

dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; exceeding powerful, as the Roman empire was, and terrible to all the kingdoms of the earth; its armies, wherever they came, struck terror among the nations, and threw them into a panic, killing, wasting, robbing all they met with (h); and especially it was terrible to Christians, by their persecutions of them, as both Rome Pagan and Rome Papal have been. Rome has its name from strength with the Greeks, and from height with the Hebrews, as Jerom (i) observes:

it had great iron teeth; which may design its generals and emperors, such as Scipio, Pompey, Julius Caesar, and others; which crushed and devoured all that came in their way: this monarchy answers to the legs and feet of iron in Nebuchadnezzar's dream:

it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it; it devoured nations, broke kingdoms in pieces, and brought them in subjection to them; reducing them to the greatest servitude, and obliging them to pay heavy taxes and tribute:

it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it: in its original, language, laws, customs, and forms of government; it was such a monster, that no name could be given it; there was no one beast in nature to which it could be compared; it had all the ill properties of the other beasts, for craft, cruelty oppression, and tyranny; and therefore John describes this same beast as being like a leopard, having the feet of a bear and the mouth of a lion. Revelation 13:2,

and it had ten horns; which are explained of ten kings or kingdoms, Daniel 7:24, the same with the ten toes in Nebuchadnezzar's dream and with the ten kings that received power as kings with the beast or ten kingdoms, into which the Roman empire was divided about the time of the rise of antichrist,see Gill on Rev_17:12.

(g) (Curt. Hist.) l. 3. c. 15. p. 221. (h) Raptores Orbis, &c. Taciti Vita Agricolae, c. 30. (i) Adv. Jovinian. l. 2. fol. 32. L.

After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a {l} fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great {m} iron teeth: it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped {n} the residue with the feet of it: and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it; and it had {o} ten horns.

(l) That is, the Roman empire which was a monster, and could not be compared to any beast, because there was no beast that was even comparable.

(m) Signifying the tyranny and greediness of the Romans.

(n) That which the Romans could not quietly enjoy in other countries, they would give it to other kings and rulers, so that whenever they wanted to, they might take it again: which liberality is here called the stamping of the rest under the feet.

(o) That is, various and different provinces which were governed by the deputies and proconsuls: and each one of these might be compared to a king.

7. dreadful and terrible] The same two words occur in combination in the Targ. of Habakkuk 1:7, ‘terrible and dreadful are they.’ The rendering of the second word in R.V., powerful, follows a slightly different reading (’emtânî for ’êmtânî), found in some editions, but less well attested and less probable (it would be a ἅπαξ εἰρημένον in Aram., and explicable only from the Arabic).

and stamped the residue with the feet of it] in wanton destructiveness and ferocity.

and it was diverse, &c.] Each of the beasts was ‘diverse’ from the others (Daniel 7:3); but the terrible appearance of this differentiated it materially from the other three, and placed it in a class by itself. The fourth beast has, moreover, no name; for no one creature, or even combination of creatures (as the lion with vulture’s wings in Daniel 7:4), could adequately represent it; only words expressive of terribleness, ferocity, and might are accumulated for the purpose of characterizing it. The empire meant (if the two preceding ones are explained correctly) will be that of Alexander the Great: comp. Daniel 8:5; Daniel 8:21, Daniel 11:3. Cf. the description of the fourth kingdom in Daniel 2:40, as ‘strong as iron,’ and ‘breaking in pieces and bruising.’

and it had ten horns] A horn is commonly in the O.T. the figure of strength to attack and repel (e.g. Deuteronomy 33:17; Micah 4:13); but in the imagery of Daniel’s visions it represents either a king (see Daniel 7:24; and cp. Daniel 8:5; Daniel 8:8 a, 9, 21), or a dynasty of kings (Daniel 8:3; Daniel 8:6-8 b, 20, 22), rising up in, or out of, the empire symbolized by the creature to which the horn belongs. Here the reference is apparently to the ten successors of Alexander on the throne of Antioch (see more fully the Additional Note, p. 101). Cf. the ‘ten toes of the feet’ in the corresponding part of ch. 2 (Daniel 2:41-42).

7, 8. The fourth beast.

Verse 7. - After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it: and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns. The version of the LXX. differs considerably, though not essentially, "After these things I beheld in a night vision a fourth terrible beast, and the fear of it excelled in strength; it had great iron teeth, it devoured and pounded down; it trode round about with its feet; it differed from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns, and many counsels were in its horns." The sense of this does not really differ, save in the last clause, which seems to belong to the next verse. Theodotion agrees with the Massoretic text. The Peshitta differs only by having" after these things," following the LXX., instead of "after this." The identification of the empire intended by this beast has been the crux of interpreters. Practically all ancient authorities - Josephus, and the author of the Apocalypse of Baruch being among the number - maintain the Roman Empire to be meant. On the other hand, a very large number of modern critics, not merely of the exclusively critical school, have held that it refers either to the Greek Empire as a whole, or to the Seleucid portion of it. As we shall discuss this subject in a separate excursus, we shall at present look at the principles to be adopted in dealing with such a question. The important point is the numerical note of this "beast." It is "ten" - the same it may be remarked, as in the feet of the image of Nebuchadnezzar's dream. When we turn from the Apocalypse of the Old Testament to the Apocalypse of the New, we find "ten" the note of Rome. Even though we should put this to the one side, as merely the opinion of an apostle, and therefore not to be considered at all in comparison with that of Hitzig or Von Lengerke, yet he was writing little more than a couple of centuries from the time when, according to critics, Daniel was written; moreover, he was in the direct line of apocalyptic tradition. The Apocalypse of Baruch, written in all probability B.C. 60, has the same view, and it is separated by little more than a century from the time of the Maccabees. The Fourth Book of Esdras, written about A.D. , has the same view. All three books imply that it is the universally received opinion. This view is really the only one that fairly meets the case. The view which separates the Seleucid Empire from that of Alexander may be laid aside, although the first three empires are correctly interpreted, because it is directly controverted by the statement that this fourth empire is to be diverse from all that had gone before. The empire of the Seleucids was in no sense diverse from that of Alexander. This fourth empire was to be stronger than all that had gone before. The Seleucid Empire was notoriously and obviously less powerful than the empire of Alexander had been, and was merely a match for the empire of the Ptolemies. Further, the next chapter shows that the writer of Daniel regarded the empire of the Diadochi as really a continuation of that of Alexander the Great. The other view rests on a division between the Median and the Persian empires, which is contradicted by any fair interpretation of this book. The next chapter shows clearly that the writer regarded the Medo-Persian power as one, but as having two dominant races. The" great iron teeth" of the beast have a reference to the iron legs of the dream-image which appeared to Nebuchadnezzar. This beast "is diverse from all the beasts that were before it." In all the previous empires, the constitution was avowedly monarchical. With the Roman, the republican constitution appeared, and even under the emperors the forms of that constitution were preserved. In this sense it was diverse from all the preceding empires. Mr. Bevan thinks "the actrocious massacres at Tyro and elsewhere, by which Alexander en-deavoured to strike terror into the conquered races," is symbolized by the monster "devouring, crushing," etc. Mr. Bevan must never have read the accounts of the conquests of Asshur-bani-pal. He seems to have forgotten the treatment meted out to Samos and Miletus by the Persians. Daniel 7:7The fourth beast. - Introduced by a more detailed description, the fourth beast is presented more distinctly before our notice than those which preceded it. Its terribleness and its strength, breaking in pieces and destroying all things, and the fact that no beast is named to which it can be likened, represent it as different from all the beasts that went before. This description corresponds with that of the fourth kingdom denoted by the legs and the feet of the metallic image of the monarchies (Daniel 2). The iron breaking in pieces all things (Daniel 2:40) is here represented by the great iron teeth with which this monster devoured and brake in pieces. In addition to that, there are also feet, or, as Daniel 7:19 by way of supplement adds, "claws of brass," with which in the mere fury of its rage it destroyed all that remained, i.e., all that it did not devour and destroy with its teeth. וגו משׁניה היא (it was made different) denotes not complete diversity of being, from which Hitz. and Del. conclude that the expression suits only the Macedonian world-kingdom, which as occidental was different in its nature from the three preceding monarchies, which shared among themselves an oriental home and a different form of civilisation and despotic government. For although משׁניה expresses more than אחרי (Daniel 7:5), yet the דּא מן דּא שׁנין (diverse one from another), spoken (Daniel 7:3) of all the beasts, shows that משׁניה cannot be regarded as expressing perfect diversity of being, but only diversity in appearance. The beast was of such terrible strength and destructive rage, that the whole animal world could furnish no representative by whose name it might be characterized. It had ten horns, by which its terrible strength is denoted, because a horn is in Scripture always the universal symbol of armed strength. With this the interpretation (Daniel 7:24), that these horns are so many kings or kingdoms, fully corresponds. In the ten horns the ten toes of the image (Daniel 2) are again repeated. The number ten comes into consideration only according to its symbolical meaning of comprehensive and definite totality. That the horns are on the head of the one beast, signifies that the unfolding of its power in the ten kingdoms is not a weakening of its power, but only its full display.
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